Kuwait City: As the government began cracking down on illegal permit holders, companies also started laying off employees and the financial burden increased, all of which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic with many expats deciding to leave Kuwait.
Prior to the pandemic, it was estimated that there were around 3.3 million expats residing in Kuwait. That number has gone down in recent months, according to official figures reported by Al Rai, to around 2.65 million.
There are around 365,000 expats stranded abroad due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, of which 147,000 residency permits have expired.
An informed source told Al Rai that there are currently 132,000 residency violators in Kuwait, of whom 40,000 will likely take advantage of the grace period granted by the Ministry of Interior and amend their residency status before the end of the month.
While there has been a focus on residency violators, many expats decided to leave on their own due to harsh economic challenges and scarcity in the job market due to the financial crisis brought upon by the pandemic.
For the last couple of months, government officials and MPs have been trying to find a way to address the demographic imbalance as expats make up around 70 per cent of Kuwait’s population.
Last week, Kuwait announced that starting from January 1, 2021 it will stop renewing residency permits of expats that are over the age of 60 and who hold a high school diploma or less.
In addition, the government is cracking down on illegal permit holders and has stated that once the grace period ends on November 30, those who do not amend their residency permits, including visit visas, will face legal consequences.
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